[Book Review] “Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling” by Heath McCoy


Most of you avid Everyview readers have probably already realized that I’m still a fan of professional wrestling. I’m 24 years old, and am proud to say that I enjoy Pro Wrestling, and DO NOT live in my parent’s basement and/or any kind of Trailer Park. I am a college educated, contributing (however small said ‘contributions’ may be) member of society.


There is one old promotion that has always piqued my interest: Stampede Wrestling, because they produced some of my favorite wrestlers ever.

However, it’s tough to find out a great deal about these older, regional promotions because a lot of the opinions are from people who were actually involved in the promotions, and in the world of wrestling as I’ve discovered, there are a lot of axes to grind.

That’s what makes Heath McCoy’s book so refreshing. He is just a wrestling fan who writes for The Calgary Herald, and who wanted to bring this story to the masses. He did impeccable research, interviewing as many people close to Stampede Wrestling as he could, which makes this book seem legitimate. This story is being told, using the words of people who experienced it, but without any of the petty feuding that so often permeates books of this nature.

Stampede Wrestling was created by Stu Hart, the patriarch of the Hart Family, one of Pro Wrestling’s Royal Families. Pain and Passion tells the story from Day 1, moving seamlessly from generation to generation, wrestler to wrestler.

Where the book succeeds most is in its cast of characters. We are not only introduced to wrestlers like The Dynamite Kid, Abdullah the Butcher, Bad News Allen, Davey Boy Smith, and the Hart’s, we are given a peak into the way they were, and in some cases, how they view their time in Stampede looking back.

McCoy often points out the real-life feuds that are embroiled, and discerns the real life anger with the on-screen product.

The story is set-up as a tragedy that just keeps getting darker, starting off with booming business, and later moving on to the family feud that has engulfed the Hart Family for the better part of the last decade, based around this sport that some view as carnival fodder.

The book also has its moments of humor, though a lot of it seems to be contingent on being a wrestling fan. I know who a lot of these guys are, I can picture them, and in some cases actually HEAR them, when I’m reading the book.

Bret Hart’s autobiography is a superior book, because it pulls no punches and gives us a little more sizzle to go with the steak. It covers a lot of the same ground, but Hart is actually a better writer, blending humor and heartache perfectly. However, where this succeeds more, is that it doesn’t present the information from only one-side. McCoy diligently interviews numerous subjects and tries to garner a wide variety of opinions on each subject.

At the end of the day, this is an enjoyable read. It’s presented with class and doesn’t sensationalize any events that took place. McCoy covers everything with a witty and realistic style, and doesn’t shy away from more tumultuous topics.

Final Words:

This book is an absolute MUST read for any fan of wrestling. It features an unbiased view into such a terrifically insane alternate reality, and it has a cast of characters that is devious, disgusting, intelligent and endearing. McCoy’s writing is well-researched and full of passion, and the book covers the entire history of the small Calgary based promotion.


  • Well-written
  • Very in depth
  • Fantastically Researched
  • Canadian


  • Some important points in the promotion’s history seem to get a little short-changed

Score: 8.5/10 (Very Good)

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